Two terms that evoke strong reactions. One speaks of the disgusting “love” of the dead. The other speaks of the disgusting “love” of the self.
Necrophilia. . .
Cigarettes. Alcohol. Sugar. Artificial sweeteners. Coffee. Soda. Gossip. Pornography. Adultery. Anger. Sex. Violence. Television.
Why are we so drawn to death? So much of what we really desire, what we are motivated to obtain and to “enjoy”–that is, what we feed on to satisfy whatever it is we must be hungering for since that is what we consume–is not only unhealthy (or perhaps our appetite for it is not), but our voracious consumption of it only works to bring about death. Death. How much time and money do we spend feeding our bodies, our minds, and our souls that which produces no life, but in fact quite the opposite? Who wants to answer this question honestly?
How much of what we feed our bodies, our minds, and our souls produces and sustains life? Do we long for healthy foods to feed our bodies, or pursue vigorous activities and exercise? Or do we prefer junk food, candy, fast food, cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs? Instead of dumb bells or a pair of hiking boots, do we prefer a TV remote or a video game controller?
Do we feed our minds good books, Scripture, seek quiet time for meditating and reflecting on what we’re learning? Do we seek opportunities to put what we know to use, to teach others, and to benefit those around us with what we have learned or been gifted with? Or do we prefer to entertain ourselves with constant, mindless noise–whether it be music or television or video games? Do we spend our time putting useful things into our mind, or do we just fill it with so much junk?
And do we spend time daily on our knees in prayer, bringing our needs before the Lord, seeking His provision in our life? Do we read the Scriptures as if they are the very words of life, wrestling with them and begging God for understanding. . . or if understanding, begging for help with application? Are we thanking God for all the things He is bringing about in our life, even the trials that strengthen our faith, and the afflictions that destroy our foolish pride? Do we spend time helping others, ministering to them and meeting their needs? And do we practice forgiveness when the Lord challenges us to live and to love as He did, sacrificially? Or do we give ourselves to anger and a vengeful spirit? Or to gossip, seeking the sin in others? Or perhaps entertain lustful thoughts, hiding the adulterous hearts that beat within our breast? Do we put unclean things before our eyes, and erect idols where only God should live?
And lest you think yourself somehow elevated because some of the most obvious entrees above are not a vice to you, then consider the second option. . .
Maybe you think well of yourself because you have healthier appetites, and so you esteem yourself as being somehow better than those whose appetites seem to lead toward destruction. Maybe in your own secret and subtle way, you pray quietly to yourself like that Pharisee, “Lord I thank you that you have not made me like these other men. . . even like this tax collector.” Maybe you have deceived yourself, forgetting your unworthiness before the King. Perhaps you have fallen asleep and forgotten that neither you nor your appetites are healthy, and that you are a sinner still in need of grace. For our Lord said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Be careful you are not thanking Him that you are not like the Necrophiliac.
I don’t know if the old American Puritan Thomas Sheperd wrote these words or if Alexander Whyte penned them in his appreciation for Shepard, but I thought they reveal much of the human heart:
‘There is no difference. I am as you are, and you are as I am. Just try the thing yourselves. Just begin to love God with all your heart, and you will soon see that the more you try to do that the less will you feel satisfied that you succeed. And, in like manner, when you begin to love your neighbour as yourself you will begin to get a lesson with a vengeance in the spiritual life. Just try to rejoice in all your neighbour’s well-being as much as you rejoice in your own. Just try to relish and enjoy all other men’s praises of your neighbour as you relish and enjoy all other men’s praises of yourself. Just try to take delight in all your neighbour’s rewards, promotions, prosperities as you take delight in your own. And go on trying to do that toward all men around you, friend and foe, and you will get a lesson in the infinite and exquisite holiness and spirituality of God’s law of love, and at the same time a lesson in the abominable and unspeakable corruptions of your own heart that will make you wiser in all these matters than all your teachers.’
Necrophiliac. Narcissist. It is tempting to say that most of us are one or the other, but I do not think that is true. I think there is a danger that most of us are both, although we may have certain tendencies to lean more toward one or the other. Both are self-consuming. And though means and motives may differ, both are self-absorbed and leave very little by way of fruit to offer others.
Christ was raised up from the dead. He did not remain in the grave; He was raised up and is at the right hand of the Father. If you are a Christian, you do not worship a dead man. Therefore, if we love Him we must leave our Necrophilia. At the same time, “By this we know love, that He laid His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” We must not be so in love with our own lives that we hold on to them and value them more than we value the lives of others. We must also come to Him understanding that our own lives are worthless, and that He is the true life. Therefore, if we love Him, we must reject our Narcissism. In Christ, we are called to love sacrificially, to give our lives for the sake of another without loving those things that bring about death.